If you or someone you love has been newly diagnosed with mesothelioma, you’re probably on the hunt for as much information as you can find. Fortunately, whether we’re talking about mesothelioma studies, treatment, financial resources, litigation advice or caregiving tips, there are plenty of mesothelioma resources out there.
In fact, there’s a glut of information on the web. The problem with that is that not all tidbits of knowledge are reliable. This is also true for scientific mesothelioma studies, particularly if they were sponsored by the asbestos lobby.
So how can you tell reliable mesothelioma studies apart from questionable ones? This can be a tricky situation, but for the sake of your well-being, both physical and emotional, it pays to be cautious.
Scientists can be unwitting victims or active deceiver
Whenever researchers study a particular topic, their work – theories, results, conclusions and so on – gains credibility once they’re published in a scientific journal or presented at a conference. Things can become cloudy, though, if the publishers or conference hosts aren’t reputable themselves.
Ted Gansler, director of medical content and editor of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians at the American Cancer Society, wrote about his experience with such organizations. As a member of the publishing world, Gansler has received numerous, unsolicited invitations to review journals’ prospective articles, which cover several topics, including agriculture. This is strange, considering that Gansler himself is an expert on oncology, and knows nothing about agriculture.
However, these unsolicited invitations sometimes trick honest and reputable scientists into publishing credible work in questionable publications. That’s not to say, though, that all participants are unwitting victims. Some researchers will gladly publish or present their work through disreputable organizations as a way of padding their resume, Gansler said.
You may ask yourself, “What harm are these supposedly disreputable organizations doing?” There are several problems. For example, if credible work about a new mesothelioma treatment is associated with a dirty organization, it won’t be taken seriously by the medical community, and that may hurt patients.
On the other hand, if doctors aren’t careful, they may base their treatment decisions on work that’s been published by a non-credible source.
How can you tell the good from the bad?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to tell which publication sources are reputable or not. However, Gansler said it helps to make sure a source is associated with:
- A medical group, such as the American Cancer Society or American Heart Association.
- A government agency, such as the National Cancer Institute.
- A medical or nursing organization, such as the American Society of Clinical Oncologists.
- An academic health institution, such as the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
If you find a study and you don’t know if it’s really worth looking at, feel free to share it with your health team.
Patients can help promote good research
Clinical trials are one type of scientific research. Not only do they help researchers in their discovery of more effective treatments, but they’re often the only way that some patients can get access to the latest therapies.
If you’re interested in participating in a clinical trial, be sure to weigh the risks involved. These may include side effects and drug failure. Plus, administration of a new treatment may require you to make extra visits to the doctor or treatment facility, which will take up more of your time. While sponsors usually pay for the drug and the monitoring of its effectiveness, they probably won’t pay for your doctors’ visits, hospital stays and certain lab tests. Your insurance may pay for some, but not all, of these extra costs.